See The World With Different Eyes
Together with renowned German business and economy magazine brand eins we came up with the idea to to develop a multidimensional tablet app out of the magazine’s “Mikroökonomie” (engl. "micro-economics").
“Mikroökonomie” is one of their most-loved regular pieces since the print magazine’s early days more than a dozen years ago. The article, a one-pager in each issue of the magazine, illustrates business in the smallest economic unit to be found, i.e. people allover the world who run their own businesses.
We conceptualized, designed and developed the idea of a tablet app for all 145 (so far) “Mikroökonomie” pieces that have been published in the past 13 years, combined with a CMS to feed new contributions automatically to the app.
The app enables readers to „travel“ the world, looking into how people in different countries and economical contexts, from different backgrounds and cultures, live and work, how they operate, how much they earn – and what dreams they harvest as well as the personal goals they're working towards. This profound yet light-footedly executed idea spans a wide range of scenarios and protagonists throughout the mag issues, like a night guard from Burkina Faso or the village butcher in Holstein, Northern Germany.
We found it an extremely exciting challenge to transfer this much-loved regular piece, a static one-pager per issue, into an interactive global journey throughout the entire world (which basically grounds on micro-economics when you come to think about it).
How can you easily navigate and swiftly explore 145+ “Mikroökonomie” articles – and in a beautiful and engaging manner on top? The solution we decided upon is a customized global map to be explored with the help of your finger.
Each continent comes with its own map, boasting a multitude of regional details which we researched, structured, and illustrated. By swiping „free“ our colourful, hand-drawn map garnished with vintage graphics that we found in libraries, your finger becomes a magnifying glass and lets you zoom into each protagonist’s individual business model and budget (as well as their national backgrounds in statistics on GNP, population total, average gross income per person, etc.).
The global map of selected micro-economics can be explored interactively in landscape format to localize each column (i.e. protagonist) on the map – many as single spots, some in layered multiplied ones. In landscape format the interviews, graphics, videos and statistics can be accessed interactively.
The second option to experience the app is portrait format: more magazine-like with articles ordered in a different way and to scroll through vertically. Hence portrait mode offers static content for those who prefer simple reading to in-depth exploration (or simply are in a hurry - you know, modern times and all).
As one of the first steps we plunged into our design expertise pool and established colour codes to distinguish the continents in a subtle, sublime, almost subconscious way that allows users to keep their sense of direction where-ever they locate in the map.
We transformed all the dreary piles of numbers like GNP, population total, average gross income per person etc. from the printed „Mikroökonomie“ articles into small infographics. The statistics bear national coats of arms as heroes so each country or protagonist is labeled by their national crest.
We researched various ambient sounds on freesounds.org inhouse, selecting one per continent.
A varying multitude of layout templates makes interview content look a lot more individual.
We developed two cover artworks, landscape and portrait. We fell in love with the idea of mini sculptures, like the bizarre Fischli & Weiss work constructions (Fischli & Weiss are Swiss object artists who exhibit complex machineries with an ironic and funny twist), rebuilt out of „objets trouvées“ that stand in no relation whatsoever to the machine's purpose - look at the orange slice for a lift wheel for example. We called these automatons „Simple Machines“ due to their innate quality to illustrate complex nexuses in a very basic, compact way. We constructed and shot various basic simple machines in our large, sleek and sun-flooded studio to visualize the four classical principles of operation. Finally we went for two visuals that best expressed the idea – the wheel and axle as portrait cover, and the lever fronts the landscape format.
- iOS Development
We did not use any default user interface element of UIKit – the user will not find a single standard button but a fine selection of designed UI elements... which we created ourselves of course.
In order to minimize loading times on the continent map we create profile boxes on the fly. What put our brains to a hard test were the so-called “Super Points” which do not simply contain a single profile box but several profiles in one – heavy data transfer rate as you can imagine.
The blurred continent map used as a backdrop in the articles provided the next challenge. Due to speed constraints on the device we had to optimize our initial algorithm which we used to create these blurred backdrops. We added a progress indicator to visualize loading times finally.
- Content Management System
New app content – such as Q&As, statistics and visuals – can easily be handled by editorial using a simple CMS which we developed ourselves, including a country list with IDs to localize new protagonists' positions on the continent map. So we scored in our quest to make it super easy, convenient and even comfy for brand eins editorial staff to add new articles to the app without any additional programming whatsoever. We all know how hard it gets to deliver quality journalism these days, think the small amount of time in which media workers have to cover a huge pile of demanding tasks... So we just found it fair to support editorial with a very easy-to-handle time-saving CMS.
- Push Notifications
As soon as a new „Mikroökonomie“ article is available, a message will be sent to app users. The red badge on the app icon notifies them of new content. A pointer appears on the app cover in addition. When the user opens the app it updates automatically and prominently displays the new „Mikroökonomie“ edition to the user.
Last but not least: the social aspect - users' „Mikroökonomie“ experience can be shared via Email, Twitter or Facebook through the usual buttons of course.
„What can be greater than having a partner who acts and works professionally, keeps their promises and still finds time to come up with truly amazing ideas?“
Gabriele Fischer, Editor-in-Chief at brand eins
Swipe is a digital studio based in Hamburg, Germany. We develop brand experiences that touch people anywhere at any time – on their mobile devices.
We explore the opportunities mobile brands offer thanks to their proximity to the target audience. And we use this knowledge to come up with new ideas that work independently of media or platforms.
We cover every discipline. Our creative planners, designers, programmers and marketers literally sit and work together at the same table. That makes us fast – and good. Because the best ideas are created by direct interaction.
Swipe was founded in 2010 by advertising and producing professionals Juergen Alker and Sven Schmiede.